Since stumbling across them a fortnight ago, JOYYA‘s infectious electro-pop has been firmly lodged in our heads. The London-based duo, consisting of Ben Dancer and David Pullen, are meticulous tunesmiths in the vein of Brooklyn’s St. Lucia and 80s icons Talk Talk – fusing sundown synths, shoe shuffling beats and earworming refrains and then coating them in a Top 40 sheen. Ahead of their first live outing at our night with Lost In The Manor at The Finsbury on September 15th, we caught up with the twosome to quiz them about their influences and origins.
‘Seven’ and ‘Red Tune’ are superb singles. How did the tracks come about?
“Thank you! ‘Seve’n has taken a few different forms and very much evolved over time – we decided to change up the drum groove when we were actually there in a drum studio in Newcastle, and I remember completely changing the main chorus vocal hook right at the very last minute when we were tracking some vocals at our friend’s house too. ‘Red Tune’ happened very differently (much quicker!) – Pullen sent me (Ben) the beat one day and I loved it instantly – the lyrics and melodies came together unusually quickly for us, all in a matter of hours, and have pretty much remained untouched. John Waugh from The 1975 called us from his hotel room in Salt Lake City and told us he was going to lay some sax down. That was pretty exciting, and we love what he’s added to the track. He’s a genuinely lovely and mega talented guy.”
How did JOYYA start out?
“The two of us have been in bands together for as long as we can remember. Our friendship is built very much on our love for writing, listening, recording and playing music together so the whole project has been developing for many many years in that sense. We both grew up in Wylam, near Newcastle, and moved down to London a couple of years ago. We started writing and producing a lot of music inspired by our move down to the city and eventually it felt like a natural step to put some of it out for people to hear.”
What inspired your name?
“Ben lives in a flat in East London that looks out over the Thames (and the rest of the city). One evening last summer we were both sat out having a pint on the balcony and we saw an old cargo ship float past right in front of us with the word “JOYYA” graffitied on the side. We’re not going to pretend it was carrying coal from the North or anything romantic like that… but we were both there, and it felt quite significant in that moment for some reason. From then on, it kind of stuck with us when we were messing around in rehearsals.”
Who are the top 5 biggest influences on your sound right now?
“Mostly for production – Rationale, LANY, HONNE, St. Lucia and The Chainsmokers.”
Any other new bands that you’ve played with and would recommend?
“We haven’t played live at all yet, but we can’t wait – it’s our favourite thing, and we’re so ready for it. We were a bit gutted to just miss the festivals this year…”
And finally, what does 2017 hold for JOYYA?
“Most importantly, we’re very excited to get out there and show people what we’ve done for our live show. It feels like we’ve been in rehearsals for months because the writing, producing and rehearsing have all reinforced each other. It will be a massive step for us. I think getting out there is the big reward that we’ve been working towards, really. Other than that, we’ve got lots of new music in the bag that we can’t wait to show people. We’re working out what’s next, but fingers crossed we’ll have something a bit longer than a single out before the end of the year.”